Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009)

Genres - Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Family-Oriented Adventure, Prehistoric Fantasy  |   Release Date - Jul 1, 2009 (USA - 3D)  |   Run Time - 94 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Perry Seibert

For moviemakers, there is a line between giving the people what they want, and giving people the exact same thing you've given them before. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs falls squarely into the latter category. As we rejoin the motley herd from the two previous Ice Age films, Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano) nervously pampers his expectant mate, Ellie (Queen Latifah), while his best friend, Diego the saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary), bristles at the thought of Manny's domesticated existence. Meanwhile, Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo) continues to annoy everybody, and Scrat the rock rat is still trying to get that acorn. When Sid accidentally discovers an underground world populated by dinosaurs, he steals three dino eggs so that he, too, can become a "mommy." After the little ones hatch, their real mom comes to retrieve them, and snatches Sid as well, hauling all of them back to the dinosaur kingdom, a place that looks an awful lot like The Land Before Time. This, of course, prompts the others to band together yet again in order to rescue their friend. What sets this third installment of the animated series apart from its predecessors is the state-of-the-art 3-D effects. That's not to say this is better than the other two movies; it's not. For the most part, it's the exact same -- right down to the makeshift family remembering that they do, in fact, like each other and should probably help each other out. It's a lesson the characters have already had to learn twice -- you'd think they would have absorbed it by now. The tired performances don't help at all. Ray Romano sounds like he just ate a really big meal, and Denis Leary never makes Diego as ferocious as he has been in the past -- not even when he's supposed to be saving the day. Poor Queen Latifah suffers from such a lack of interesting material that you might not realize she's the voice of Ellie at all. Only Simon Pegg -- who joins the hit franchise as a swashbuckling, possibly psychotic weasel named Buck -- sounds energetic. What all this means is that little ones will probably have a fine time -- dinosaurs are for the most part just inherently appealing to seven-year-olds -- but parents may begin to pray that their little ones grow up before the release of "Ice Age 4."